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Ripple Mania CAL: Giveaway

Whether you’re just joining in or you’ve been participating in the Ripple Mania Crochet-a-long since October, I know you’re excited to hear more about the prizes!  The Ripple Mania CAL has four fantastic sponsors, Coats & ClarkLeisure ArtsLion Brand Yarn, and Magique Enterprises, who have each put together a great prize package.  This post describes the prizes, explains how you can enter the giveaway, and includes the schedule for the Ripple Mania CAL.  All images are used with permission.

The Prizes

Red Heart Ripple Mania Prize Package (Retail value: $75)

Red Heart is sponsoring a fabulous Ripple Mania package including an issue of Crochet Today! and a copy of the Ripple Effect pattern booklet,  along with everything you need to make the Windsor Ripple Throw - 8 skeins of Red Heart With Love yarn (2 skeins each 1530 Violet and 1814 True Blue D; 1 skein each 1907 Boysenberry, 1701 Hot Pink, 1401 Pewter, and 1805 Bluebell) and a 6 mm (US J) Susan Bates bamboo handle crochet hook.  And, to make it easy for you to work on your project on the go, they’re also including a Red Heart tote bag.

 

 

Leisure Arts Ripple Mania Prize Package. (Retail value: $48.85)

Leisure Arts is sponsoring an awesome Ripple Mania prize package including 69 ripple patterns in 5 pattern books!  The package includes 40 Favorite Ripple Afghans (Ravelry page), Beauty of the Earth Afghans (Ravelry page), Vanna’s Choice Color It Beautiful Afghans (Ravelry page), Ripple Afghans to Crochet (Ravelry page), and Rippling Effects (Ravelry page).  These books will definitely keep you crocheting for quite some time!

 

 

Lion Brand Ripple Mania Prize Package. (Retail value: $33.16)

Lion Brand Yarn is sponsoring a wonderful Ripple Mania prize package – 4 skeins of Amazing in Strawberry Fields, enough yarn to crochet the Candy Color Ripple Cowl.  You’ll have a fashionable accessory just in time for the deep cold of winter!

 

Magique Enterprises Ripple Mania Prize Package. (Retail value: $24.95CAD)

And for those of you who have been longing to try an Eleggant crochet hook after reading my review, Magique Enterprises is sponsoring a set including the Eleggant comfort crochet handle, six interchangeable hooks (in steel sizes 1.25 mm, 1.75 mm, and 2.25 mm, and in aluminum sizes 3.5 mm, 5.0 mm, and 6.0 mm), and o-rings.

 

Now that you’ve heard about all the amazing prizes available, you may be wondering how to enter this giveaway.  Read on for details!

 

Ripple Mania Giveaway Rules

To enter the Ripple Mania giveaway for your chance to win one of these great prizes:

  • Join in the Ripple Mania Crochet-a-long!  You can participate in the Underground Crafter group on Ravelry, in the comments on this blog, on the Underground Crafter Facebook page, or by Tweeting @ucrafter #ripplemania.
  • Photograph your Ripple Mania project!  Smaller projects (accessories, baby blankets, cozies, washcloths, etc.) must be completed.  Larger projects (adult sweaters, large throws, or bedspreads) must be at least 1/3 finished.
  • Projects must have been started and/or completed during the Ripple Mania CAL (between October 17 and November 28).  You can use any crochet ripple pattern, though of course I’d love it if you used one of mine :).
  • Share a photograph and description of your Ripple Mania project by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, November 28.  Each project counts as one entry in the giveaway.
  • To share your project on Ravelry: Add the project to your notebook with the tag ripplemania.  Share the project  in the Ripple Mania CAL Giveaways thread.
  • To share your project on Facebook: Post a Wall photo on the Underground Crafter page.  (Remember that if you don’t “like” the page, I won’t be able to message you on Facebook, so you’ll have to check back to see if you’ve won.)
  • To share your project on this blog: Post a link to a project photo (on your blog, Flickr, etc.) in the comments.
  • To share your project on Twitter: Tweet @ucrafter #ripplemania with a link to a photo of your project.
  • This giveaway is open to all crocheters worldwide.
  • By entering the giveaway, you are granting permission for your project photo to be shared in a collage of all entries on this blog.
  • On or about December 1, 2012, four winners will be chosen at random and contacted for mailing addresses.  Winners must respond by December 15, 2012 or their prize will be forfeited.
Thanks so much for joining in, and I can’t wait to see the projects!

Ripple Mania CAL Schedule!

Wednesday, 10/17 – Ripple Mania Kick Off!

Ripple Mania CAL Chat on Ravelry

Week 1 Chat on Ravelry

  • Supply list and project suggestions
  • Colorize Your Ripple: Choosing a Palette for Your Project

Wednesday, 10/24 -Ripple Basics

Week 2 Chat on Ravelry

Wednesday, 10/31 - Ripple Variations

Week 3 Chat on Ravelry

Wednesday, 11/7 – Squaring Up Your Ripple

Week 4 Chat on Ravelry

Wednesday, 11/14 – Adding ripples to hexagon and square motif patterns

Week 5 Chat on Ravelry

Wednesday, 11/28 – The Big Reveal!

Stop by Ravelry to join in on the CAL.

Hispanic Heritage Month 2012 Interview Series: Paola Navarro from Delicious Crochet

This post is part of my 2012 Hispanic Heritage Month interview series.

Today, I’m interviewing Argentinian crochet designer Paola Navarro, also known as Delicious Crochet.  She has been selling her signature style of amigurumi patterns in her Etsy shop since 2007, and can also be found on Ravelry (as DeliciousCrochet and on her designer page), as well as on her website, Flickr, Craftsy, and Twitter.  All pictures are used with Paola’s permission.

 

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you learn to crochet?

Paola: When I was a kid, my mom and grandma taught me the basic crochet stitches. But back then, I wasn’t too interested in crocheting or knitting.  Then, as a teenager, I became more attracted to this craft and some years ago, I just completely felt for it!

 

Granny by Delicious Crochet. (Click for pattern link.)

UC: When did you first become interested in amigurumi?
Paola: I always loved designing toys! Even as a kid, I used to sew some dolls and teddies! Then, just by accident, I stumbled across amigurumis and discovered they were just perfect for me, because they give me the possibility of combining two passions: crochet and toy design.

 

Randy the Raccoon by Delicious Crochet. (Click for pattern link.)

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Paola: In fact, I always did my own designs, and not just for crochet. And everything inspires me, specially my hubby and nieces.

 

American Bison by Delicious Crochet. (Click for pattern link.)

UC:  Tell us about crochet in Argentina.

Paola: In Argentina, both crochet and knitting are almost exclusively practiced by women. Most women learned from a family member, like their grannies, moms, or old aunts. And to a lesser extent, at school.

A couple of years ago, some yarn sellers started teaching adults and kids how to crochet and knit in their stores on Saturday afternoons and this was a great success. Also, you can see some grown women crocheting in doctor’s waiting rooms, parks, while waiting in bank lines, and even in buses!  (UC comment: I crochet on the subway all the time, so I guess I’d fit in if I moved to Argentina!) Not so the young women. They prefer crocheting or knitting in their homes.  Just some people know how to do both, but knitting is more common among Argentinian women.

Caveman by Delicious Crochet. (Click for pattern link.)

UC: Can you tell me about your decision to offer your patterns in English and Spanish?

Paola: Well, as I can speak both, I thought this was a great idea to help my designs reach more people across the world. Most of my buyers are used to crochet patterns written in English, but Spanish speakers are somewhat reluctant to use patterns in a foreign language, specially if they are crochet beginners. And having the possibility of using a pattern in their own language gives them more confidence.

Angie the Pig by Delicious Crochet. (Click for pattern link.)

 

UC: Your pattern photos have a signature style with a white outline and a solid background. How did you start using that style?

Paola: This is a way of giving my photos, as well as my amigurumis, the same signature style and more consistency to my shop. Then, when someone sees an amigurumi photo with this style, they will think: this MUST be from DeliciousCrochet.

Coquena the Llama by Delicious Crochet. (Click for pattern link.)

UC: You have over 15,000 Etsy sales. (WOW!)  Can you share some tips for new Etsy sellers?

Paola: All my designs are original and have my own style. When you see one of my designs, you know its mine even before seeing its name or my signature elsewhere. I think finding your own personal style instead of trying to imitate others and printing it in your creations is something buyers really value.

There are no secrets for running a shop. Just do what you love the best way possible and always take good care of your buyers.

Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing, Paola!

I’m  blogging daily throughout October.  Visit I Saw You Dancing for more Blogtoberfest bloggers and CurlyPops for Blogtoberfest giveaways.  Search #blogtoberfest12 on Twitter.

Year of Projects: Crochet Master Class – Interview with Donna Kay Lacey

(This post is part of my Year of ProjectsCrochet Master Class series. You can read the other posts in this series here.)

I’m really excited to share an interview today with Donna Kay Lacey.  No, she isn’t featured in Crochet Master Class, but she is the designer I discovered while I was working on the bullion chapter in this book.  (You can find my experiments with her designs here.)

Donna Kay Lacey is an up-and-coming designer who has really embraced the bullion stitch in her work.  You can find her online at her website and blog, on Flickr, and on Ravelry (as donkyl06, on her designer page, and in her group, A New Twist: Creative Crochet Designs by Donna Kay Lacey).   The pictures in this post are used with her permission.

 

Donna Kay Lacey on Spring Break. (March, 2012 in the Smoky Mountains.)

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first get started crocheting?

Donna Kay Lacey (DKL): As a child, my love of crochet was sparked by the many hours I spent watching my Dear Aunt Joyce crochet baby blankets and booties for all of the babies born in our family, as well as all those born in the church. I was amazed at how one continuous length of yarn could be worked into something so beautiful. When I turned 16 and started working, I took my first paycheck and went to the craft store where a purchased yarn, a crochet hook and a how to book. I have been hooked ever since.

 

Donna Kay Lacey's Valentine Hearts 10" block pattern.

UC: When were you first introduced to the bullion stitch, and how did you come to work with it so often?
DKL: I have always been drawn to intricate stitches. My first glimpse of the bullion stitch was in an old crochet pattern book (circa 1940’s). At that time I did not have the courage to try it. Upon joining Ravelry, I found a few free-form groups where I again saw the bullion stitch. This sparked my interest and in my quest for something unique and interesting, I began experimenting with it.

 

Donna Kay Lacey's Bloomin' Bullions 9" crochet block.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?
DKL: I join Ravery in Aug of 2011. The first group I joined was Vanna’s Choice Fan Club where I met Margaret MacInnis. This group participates in many swaps where afghan blocks are exchanged. After seeing some of my work, Margaret encouraged me to write out my designs. The first design I wrote out was Bloomin’ Bullions. The design process was really exciting, but there were times when I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it through the testing/editing phase. All the hard work paid off and the thrill I got when I started seeing the blocks that others had made from my pattern was awesome! I love to see the joy and pride others have upon completing my patterns. Thanks to Ravelry, I can have direct communication with those working my patterns. I am not only available to help them if there are questions, but I get to hear stories and see photos of what their blocks are being used for. This is truly what inspires me to continue designing.

 

Donna Kay Lacey's Bullion Tile crochet block pattern.

UC: What are your favorite crochet books in your collection?
DKL: My book collection is quite large and contains a large number of vintage pattern books. I love browsing through them. No matter how many times I look through them, there is always something new that catches my eye. Two of my favorite current books are Crochet Master Class by Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss and Basic Crochet Stitches by Erika Knight. I am very fond of stitch dictionaries.  (UC comment: It looks like Donna Kay Lacey and I have similar taste in books!)

UC: Do you have any favorite crafty blogs or websites to share?
DKL: Most of my internet time is spent on Ravelry.

 

Donna Kay Lacey's Spring Rolls crochet block, part of her Whimsical Wonderland Block-A-Month crochet-a-long.

UC: You host CALs in your Ravelry group, A New Twist. What suggestions do you have for emerging designers for actively engaging crocheters with their patterns?
DKL: Be unique. Don’t be afraid to step outside the box or to bend the ‘rules’ when designing. Always be available for questions or help along the way. I love inspiring people to try new things with their crochet. It is so much fun to see the excitement in them when they accomplish something new. Watching their crochet skills grow along with their enthusiasm of crochet is priceless.

 

UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?
DKL: I am inspired by everything around me. I truly see the world in yarn. I am currently working on a project involving vegetable inspired blocks. The first block I designed for this project was the Kale block. One day I stumbled upon a seed catalog and happened to see a sketch of a beautiful Kale plant and instantly wondered if I could duplicate its beauty in yarn.

Donna Kay Lacey's Kale crochet block pattern, along with her inspiration.

It received such great acceptance that I started on the Artichoke Block.

Donna Kay Lacey's Artichoke block, along with her inspiration.

 

UC: Do you have any news you’d like to share?
DKL: My first published design, Bullion Beach Blanket, will be in the Summer 2012 issue of Interweave Crochet. It is due to hit the newsstands June 12, 2012, but the preview can be found here. I was very excited because this was my first time to even submit a design to a magazine. I was thrilled when they accepted my submission!

Donna Kay Lacey's Bullion Beach Blanket pattern. Photo (c) Harper Point/Interweave Crochet.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Donna!  It was a pleasure to interview you.  

If these patterns are inspiring you to learn the bullion stitch, check out Donna Kay Lacey’s bullion stitch photo tutorial or video tutorial.

FO Friday: Grannies on parade

I finished up nine granny squares this week to donate to the Crochetlist April charity challenge, the Binky Patrol in Arizona.  These were all made with acrylic stash yarns.  Since the squares need to be 6 inches, I’ve made minor modifications to each pattern to adjust the size.

 

The first two grannies are from The Granny Square Book by Margaret Hubert (reviewed by me here).

This is The Jeannine Square.  I added another round of single crochet.

 

This is the Blooming Granny.  Both of these patterns also appear in The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet.  I made a few modifications to the final row of the pattern and then added three extra rounds.

 

 

You may recognize the next square I finished.

I shared this one in my post on Sunday.

This was one of the bullion squares I was working on as part of my Year of Projects goal.  I used the first four rounds of the Hybrid Peas pattern by Margaret MacInnis and then added a half double crochet border.

 

My next block is from Go Crochet! Afghan Design Workbook by Ellen Gormley (reviewed by me here).

I used the Star Power block and added three more rounds.  I think this pattern is super cute, and since it doesn’t have a photo in Ravelry yet, I will probably need to make another one.  You know, just to do my part :).

 

The next three blocks have been sitting around in my stash since 2007 and originated from patterns in 200 Crochet Blocks for Blankets, Throws, and Afghans by Jan Eaton.  I kind of forgot about these blocks after I moved, and they were just rescued from their hibernation in plastic sleeves over the weekend!

The first two blocks were originally intended to be part of a gift for my aunt.  I later decided she wasn’t crochet worthy :).

This was actually a finished Willow block, but I unraveled a few rounds and then used two single crochet rounds to square it off at 6 inches.

This block started as the Tricolor Square, but it was also too large.  I unraveled a few rounds and then finished it with a round of single crochet.

I originally made the next block after I finished the CYC Certified Instructor Program in Crochet to keep in my teaching portfolio.  This one started out as the Coffee and Cream pattern.

Once I started going through my teaching materials, I found this partially completed granny square I made during a granny square class last year.  I added a few rounds to finish it off.

 

And, finally, since I tried to make a project from as many of the books in my granny square collection as possible this week :), I made this version of Motif 100 from Beyond the Square Crochet Motifs (reviewed by me here) by Edie Eckman yesterday morning on the way to work.

Overall, these grannies have been nice diversions in a stressful week, where I worked until past 8 p.m. every night (usually 10-11 hours a day).  I don’t think tomorrow or Saturday will be any better.  But it is comforting to know that I’m slowly dwindling my stash while making something fun for a good cause.  Since I’m not making a blanket, I don’t have to stress about coordinating colors.  My guess is that these blocks will ultimately make their way into several different Binky Patrol blankets.

Also, thanks to everyone who shared their opinion about where to host a 365 project.  The general consensus is that Flickr is the best option since I plan to use a camera and not my phone (Instagram was a close second).  Once things slow down, I’ll set up on Flickr.  (And yes, I have been taking my daily photos.)

 

Edited to add: The Galler Yarns blog posted a free pattern of one of my designs today.  If you’re looking for a quick gift to go along with a graduation or Mother’s Day gift card, check out the Gift Pocket Bear.  You can read more about this critter in this FO Friday post from last year.

For more Finished Objects, visit Tami’s Amis.

Stashbusting and shooting (pictures, that is)

I’ve recently been hit by an attack of the granny square.  Perhaps (finally!) finishing the granny square blanket for my sister has reminded me of my tremendous love for grannies and of blanket-making.  In any event, since last week I’ve dug through my stash to work on several granny square projects for charity.

I revived this long-term charity blanket project on Saturday afternoon by adding some length to one strip and joining the two rows together.

(You can find a list of patterns I used for these squares in this post.)

I’ve also finished seven individual grannies, but I’ll save those details for Friday :).

A sneak peak of some of my finished grannies.

Besides the grannies, I’m working on some other scrappy projects which will eventually turn into pet blankets to donate to Bideawee.  I’m glad to finally be spending time working on my charity and stashbusting goals.  I dream of the day when another plastic tub of yarn will be used up, but there are a lot of granny squares and pet blankets between today and that day.

I finished The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest in the nick of time last Wednesday, by staying up reading until about 1 a.m.  The book was removed from my Kindle by the library before I woke up for work that morning.  You can check out my review on Goodreads.

As for what I’m reading now, I took some photo advice from Stacey at FreshStitches and decided to read my camera manual!  I got a new camera over the weekend, and I’ve been taking pictures pretty much non-stop.  Since I only know how to use the macro and normal modes, now is the time to get acquainted with all of the funky features.

On a related note, I’ve been thinking about doing a 365 project (taking and posting pictures every day).  This is to encourage me to use my camera more frequently and to, of course, improve my photography skills.  Has anyone done one of these before?  If you have, I’d love to hear your suggestions about where you posted your photos.  Did you use a blog, Flickr, 365 Project, or another site?  I should mention that I’m sort of cheap, which is why I haven’t just plunked down the twenty-five bucks for a Flickr Pro account, and am instead asking you all for free advice :).

 

For more Works in Progress, visit Tami’s Amis.  For more Yarn Along posts, visit Small Things.

Interview with Sandie Petit, founder of Crochet Cabana

In the early 2000s, when I first learned to read crochet patterns, there weren’t many good crochet websites.  One that I would visit time and again for help understanding a new technique was Crochet Cabana.  Even now, as a crochet teacher I often refer beginners to this wonderful site.  So I’m really excited to interview Sandie Petit today, the founder of Crochet Cabana.

Besides the Crochet Cabana website, you can find Sandie online on her blog, her Facebook page, her YouTube channel, her Etsy and Ravelry shops, and on Twitter.  She is less frequently seen on Crafty Corral, her first crochet blog, and Tumblr.  You can also buy Crochet Cabana items at Cafe Press.  All pictures and logos are used with her permission.

 

Sandie Petit.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first get started crocheting?
Sandie: In the summer of 1980, I went on vacation with some girlfriends in Mississippi. They pulled out their hooks and started crocheting and offered to teach me. That got the ball rolling. When I returned home the local TG&Y became my primary source for patterns, yarn, and hooks. The yarn was Sayelle at the time. For many years I thought Boye was the only kind of hook manufactured! With the advent of the Internet a whole new world opened up to me and I now have quite a nice hook collection! My house is often overrun by yarn and I have more patterns than I could complete in several lifetimes!

 

 

First Crochet Cabana banner.

UC: What was the original inspiration behind Crochet Cabana?
Sandie: Crochet Cabana began in 1997 as a couple of pages on my personal website, Sandra’s Backyard. The original purpose was to have an area where I could jot down what I knew about crochet for my own reference. I also wanted to provide information for those just learning to crochet. I wanted to write it all down, with pictures, in a way that I hoped could be easily understood. All of my first tutorials were written with the new crocheter in mind. As I learned more myself – both in the field of crochet and also in web design – more was added.

In my wildest dreams I never imagined the site would get so large. As I got requests for information on this or that topic, I would add those topics also to the site. In 2001, my husband purchased a domain name for Crochet Cabana as a gift for me. Then in December 2004, we decided to purchase hosting space so I wouldn’t have to keep moving the site as it grew too large for the present host.

 

 

Current Crochet Cabana banner.

UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?
Sandie: For designing, inspiration is everywhere. The world around you. Television. The Internet. Sitting in a doctor’s office or in traffic I might notice a particular color or pattern that is intriguing. Quite often it is a matter of need. I need a gift and I have xx amount of time (usually a very short window). It’s actually quite difficult to come up with something new and I always wonder if someone else has already done it. There are so many wonderful designers out there! I don’t feel that I do that much designing really, but when I post a picture of something I’ve worked up I know someone will ask for the pattern as soon as it’s posted.

As to inspiration for tutorials and videos, that generally comes from visitors to the site who inquire if I can show them how to do this or that. If enough people seem to be having the same problem or are interested in a particular technique, I consider adding it to the site. I do fairly often get requests for me to do a video or tutorial on how to work a particular pattern. That is something I cannot do because of copyright issues.

 

 

YouTube Preview Image

(One of Sandie’s videos.  We start our foundation chain the same way!)

UC: You are a true pioneer of the DIY/craft scene on the internet. What were the benefits of establishing yourself online early, and what are some of the changes you’ve had to deal with in recent years?
Sandie: How nice of you to say! When I first began, I had no clue how to put up a website. My husband created the original site and showed me how to update it. Since then, I’ve done most of the work myself though my family, who are much more computer literate than I, have been a great help over the years. My daughter created the logo presently on the Cabana.

One of the benefits of being established so many years ago is that I can appreciate the technological advances available today. I clearly remember having to move the site over a dialup connection! What took many hours then would take mere minutes now. I am still using the same program to update the site (Microsoft Front Page). It is no longer supported so I will eventually have to find a new program to use – which is something I dread.

In those beginning days, way back when, one didn’t have to worry about Internet theft. In recent years, there has been a problem with people taking the work of others and claiming it as their own. Just a few months ago I found photos lifted from one of my tutorials on which the person had placed her own name right on the photos and put them on her site as her own. It was a foreign site and though I requested she remove them, that didn’t happen. You really have no recourse in these situations and it is quite discouraging since it is a lot of work to take photos, edit them, and add all the text to a tutorial, as well as making videos. Sadly, this has also happened to other designers. Sometimes you will even find people selling your patterns on Ebay, particularly if they are free patterns. They just copy them and sell them. It’s really terrible. In fact, I removed all the patterns I had on the site after one such incident. Since then, I’ve put a few back and opened Etsy and Ravelry shops. There are still quite a number I haven’t put up anywhere again. I am really torn about what to do as I love sharing my work with others. (UC comment: What a shame!)

Another change is that people are more and more moving to video teaching. I LOVE video teaching. It is amazing to me that I can create a video demonstrating how to do something, giving the tips I’ve learned through the years, and have someone in another country watch it and learn the technique. I guess I am showing my age here, but it just fascinates me. I often wish I had my own video studio and staff! I still have much to learn. I hope the industry doesn’t change too much while I’m learning!

Yet another change I have seen is the availability of e-books and e-patterns, both free and for sale. Being able to get a pattern you want immediately certainly has its up side. One thing I like about this is if I sell a pattern this way, I know exactly who purchased it and if I update it or find a significant error, I can let them know quite easily. Along with this is the self-publishing industry, such as Lulu, which has grown tremendously in the past few years.

The problem with all this availability is that much of it is free. This hurts the designers for whom crochet sales are a significant part of their earning power. I think this may be why we are seeing more complex designs as magazine publishers have to find a way to entice people to spend their discretionary income. It’s a dilemma I’m sure we will be addressing for some time to come as the industry works to find a balance between paper publishing and e-publishing.

 

 

One of Sandie's charity scarves, donated to Knit Your Bit.

UC: You do a lot of charity crochet. Can you tell us about some of your favorite charity projects, causes, and organizations?
Sandie: There are so many worthy organizations out there. I find that people generally gravitate toward a cause that is in some way meaningful to them. For example, I have lost many loved ones to cancer so if an opportunity arises I might donate to that cause. I had two preemies so I will occasionally donate preemie hats and afghans.

I also like to help out organizations that are based in my own state when I can. I also love to make scarves and squares. Those things came together for me in Scarves for Special Olympics where I could donate to the Louisiana branch of their organization. I was even able to deliver the scarves and meet the people there. That was rather exciting. They do require you to use particular brand and colors of yarn and there are size specifications, but I find that a challenge. I like to try and find different ways to make the scarves unique within those boundaries. This is an annual project so if you haven’t participated in the past you can always pick up and join in the next go round.

Then there is the National WWII Museum’s Knit Your Bit which is also located nearby and accepts scarves. I have had many family members in the military, including my son, and I am happy to be able to do something for the soldiers who put their lives on the line for us. Knit Your Bit gives a bit of a thank you to those soldiers. They accept any pattern, any color so it’s very easy to participate. Most of the vets are men so colors tend to lean in that direction.

I also like to be sure my work makes its way to the people for whom it was intended. With that in mind, I am cautious about sending to people I don’t know. I have known Sandy Holladay for many years and have no qualms about sending items to her for The Bridge and Beyond Project, which helps the homeless. She accepts many different items including scarves, mittens, and socks. She does amazing things with donated squares, putting together afghans which are then given to one of several local missions. Each day I am thankful that I have a roof over my head, clean clothes, and food to eat. It’s a shame there are so many who don’t have these basic needs met.

Heartmade Blessings has been around quite a number of years. They accept 12” squares which are put together into comfortghans. Several people I know personally have benefited from this effort.  (UC comment: I’m actually working on several squares right now to donate to Heartmade Blessings as part of the Crochetlist March charity challenge.)

Crafting for a Cause is a wonderful group that supports our Native Americans. Most of the items made are sent directly to the reservation so you can be sure they are getting where they are needed.

In addition to official organizations, I like to donate where I can locally. As time goes on, postage costs for mailing packages has gone up so anything I can deliver is a plus.

That said, I occasionally like to send to SIBOL, way across the pond from me. I just love to go to Sue’s blog and Flickr page and see all the beautiful things. Everything is so artfully shown. She accepts 6” squares which are joined into lapghans for nursing homes in her area. Her challenges are fun too!

 

 

 

One of Sandie's charity scarves, donated to Knit Your Bit.

UC: You are a CGOA Master of Advanced Crochet Stitches and Techniques and a CYC Certified Crochet Teacher. Tell us why you decided to pursue these certifications and how/if they’ve been helpful to you.
Sandie: I am going to share with you my REAL reason for taking these courses. Shhhh. I never think my work is good enough and I thought that if I took these courses someone else could tell me if I was doing things correctly and, if not, I could learn the proper way. Having the certificates does not mean that I am a wonderful crocheter, but it does mean, to me, that I’ve run the course and persevered to complete it successfully. I may have a tiny bit more confidence than I had before since I did pass the courses.

I also thought that having the certificate would give a bit more weight to my qualifications as an instructor if I decided to teach community education classes or even paid classes through a craft store.  (UC comment: I am also a CYC Certified Crochet Instructor and Teacher, and will actually be attending classes this weekend to become a CYC Certified Knitting Instructor and Teacher.  For more discussion on the pros and cons of certification, see this post.)

The two courses are very different. I did learn some new techniques through my work on both courses, particularly the CGOA course because it covered more of a variety – like hairpin lace, which I’d not done a lot of before.

I find that every step you take is one step closer to your goal. You mentioned knitting. I’ve been trying to learn to knit for many years. I can cast on and I actually can knit, but if I drop a stitch, that is it for me. However, every time I try I get a little bit further in my understanding. It is the same with crochet. When I did the CGOA course, I did not work much with thread and I had to complete a filet thread project with thread, which I did successfully. I did not pick it up again until recently, but those things I learned at that point have come back to me and I find I just love filet!

I don’t know if the certificates mean anything to those who look at my work. I think your work really has to speak for itself. When I pick up a magazine or look online at a pattern I may purchase, I don’t know if that person has a certificate or not. I just like the pattern, the colors, and the way it was photographed, perhaps the stitches used or the yarn. I think taking the course was for me more than anything.

I would dearly love to take Pauline Turner’s course. I understand it is difficult and I think if I passed that one I would really feel like a crochet master.

 

 

 

UC: What are your favorite crochet books in your collection?
Sandie: There are so many! Those that jump right to mind are Quick and Cozy Afghans which I use quite a bit; the Vanna books, particularly Vanna’s Afghans A to ZDonna Kooler’s Encyclopedia of Crochet; and Margaret Hubert’s The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet. I have dozens of pattern and reference books and leaflets though. That just scratches the surface. One of my recent purchases was Super Finishing Techniques for Crocheters by Betty Barnden. Her Filet Crochet book is great also.

 

 

One of Sandie's charity scarves, using the "V for Victory" pattern by Rachel Vives, donated to Knit Your Bit.

UC: Do you have any favorite crochet websites/blogs to share?
Sandie: I don’t get around to the blogs as much as I used to, but here are a few that I visit often:

Generally, I look at my blogroll to see who has updated and I will visit the top five or ten of them and sometimes the sites they recommend in their blogroll.

After reading other interviews on your blog, I also started following Vashti.   (UC comment: Thanks Sandie!  I am honored to have you as a reader.)

 

Thanks so much for stopping by for an interview, Sandie!

Interview with Renate Kirkpatrick, book review, and week of giveaways kick off!

The Interview

Today I’m pleased to feature an interview with Renate Kirkpatrick, the fiber artist, teacher, and author living in the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, as my 100th blog post!  I first discovered Renate’s work through the Tunisian Crochet group on Ravelry.  The moderators posted the names of several Tunisian crochet books on the group page, and I saw Renate’s Crochet Techniques (Milner Craft Series) listed.  I decided to take a chance and order it on Amazon since the description sounded delightful.  (You can read my review of the book here, or read my comparative review of the 20+ crochet stitch guides in my collection here.)  Since then, I’ve seen more of Renate’s work on her blog, her Flickr photostream, her Facebook page, and her Ravelry designer page.  I particularly love her recent pictures of her crocheted metallic vest on Flickr.

Renate Kirkpatrick

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first learn to crochet?

Renate: To be honest, I really don’t remember… I do recall, as a child, sitting with a neighbour as she crocheted slippers and how thrilled I was when she gave me my very own pair… perhaps something subliminal going on there.  My grandmother and great grandmother were both wonderful crocheters/knitters, and I have a box filled with their beautiful works that I treasure, but I never knew them so perhaps there’s a bit of genetics going on too.  I think I made my first granny square in my mid-teens.  (UC comment: I also treasure my grandmother’s beautiful work, some of which you can see in this post.)

Renate made this felted, hand dyed, freeform hat with beads for the 2011 Alice Springs Beanie Festival.

(UC comment: For more info about the Beanie Festival, an event where Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal artists share their work and culture together, visit the website here.)

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Renate: Family, friends, students… Family members and friends would ask me to make this or that and I’d write it down as I went so not to forget.  Students asking for more than just sampler squares.  The sheer challenge of coming up with a pattern idea and writing it down.

Renate's second book.

UC: I recently bought a copy of Bring Colour to Crochet: 64 Multi-Coloured Squares (Milner Craft Series).  What was the design process like for this book?  How did that compare to the process for your other two books?

Renate: My first two books, Freeform Crochet and Beyond: Bags, Cushions, Hats, Scarves and More (Milner Craft Series) and Crochet Techniques (Milner Craft Series), came about through tragedy.  The local craft shop where I was teaching was destroyed by fire, along with all my sampler rugs (afghans) and the many freeform examples I had on display.  Luckily, I still had all the patterns.  I put together book proposals and submitted them to a number of publishers.  About 6 months later, Sally Milner Publishers contacted me for 2 books and so it began.  I like to think that Bring Colour to Crochet sits somewhere between the first two.  My hope is that the traditionalists and freeformers alike will be challenged and inspired by the variety of colour incorporations and also the many novel stitches that make up this 64 pattern sampler.

Renate's Metamorphosis freeform cushion cover includes water soluble fabric, machine and wet felted patches, felted beads, crochet motifs, and glass bead embellishments.

UC: What first inspired you to teach crochet?

Renate: The desire to help and share.  I was teaching Papermaking and Hooked Rag Rugging at said local craft store when I was asked if I’d like to teach some basic crochet as well.  Not one to do things by halves, I decided that once the students had a grasp of the basics they might want to try their hand at something more challenging to continue on – and so, the first sampler rug was born (Classic in Crochet Techniques).  From there it was a matter of staying a step or two in front of these enthusiastic ladies and with each crochet technique explored (Tunisian, double-ended, in the round, Jacquard), a new sampler was created as a teaching tool and goal setter.  (UC comment: My students keep me on my toes too, and definitely inspire me to learn new techniques and advance my skills.)

As a teacher, there is nothing more satisfying than having a student come to class lacking confidence and leaving excited and believing they can do it.

UC: Has teaching crochet impacted your own personal crafting?

Renate: Absolutely… The very fact that I was asked to teach the basics propelled me forward to research and explore.  Without my students asking “What’s next?”, I would never have learnt what I know today or achieved half as much.  It was a student who first introduced me to freeform, which has become my passion and the creative joy of my life.

Renate's Scribbler purse.

UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?

Renate: It’s always so cliché but nevertheless true, the Natural World and all that that encompasses – colour, texture, and form.  What can I say?  I’m an Australian; our colours are over-the-top, vivid, bright; our textures tactile; and our forms bold.  It’s more than enough to keep me inspired for a very long time.  I blogged about this very theme some time ago.

UC: What is your favorite crochet book in your collection (besides your own, of course)?

Renate: I think I may have more craft books and magazines than the local library, but can’t say I refer to one more than another.  I do like to crawl the opportunity shops for old, old, patterns and books but so do others, or so it seems, because they’re very hard to come by now.

Renate's Sideshow Alley shawl.

UC: Do you have any favorite crafting blogs or websites you’d like to share?

Renate: Ravelry is probably my most favorite site.  It brings together so many different people and ideas.  I’ve met so many interesting, passionate craftspeople that I feel quite at home and the mind boggles with all the exciting things happening in the yarn world.

A detail from Renate's Sideshow Alley shawl.

 

UC: (Insert question here: Feel free to share anything that I haven’t asked about that you would like to talk about related to creativity, crochet, designing, new projects, teaching, etc.)

Renate: As I look back over the years and remember how crochet/knitting, indeed many older crafts, were considered out-dated, redundant, and doddery, I’m delighted to see their revival and the enthusiasm in which they are being embraced all ’round the world.

Lastly, and at the risk of repeating myself because I say this so often, I’m an avid believer in “the doing.”  How often do you hear, “Oh, but I’m not the least bit creative…”  I still maintain that everyone harbours some creativity within them and it comes to life through “the doing.”  Talent is one thing but not nearly enough.  Without “the doing,” how will the talent ever awaken and come to fruition?  A good old Aussie saying, “You’ll never know unless you give it a go…”

Well said, Renate!  Thank you so much for stopping in for an interview today.  And now on to the book review…

Book Review

 

Since I enjoyed Crochet Techniques (Milner Craft Series) so much, I decided to pick up Renate’s Bring Colour to Crochet: 64 Multi-Coloured Squares (Milner Craft Series).  (You can check out a great picture of the completed sampler here.)

My version actually has a different cover, since I ordered it through the Crafter's Choice book club.

The book starts with an introduction that includes illustrated stitch instructions, a stitch symbol key, and some helpful tips for weaving in ends since the patterns require frequent color changes.  Renate also includes directions for edging and joining the squares in the beginning section.  As with Crochet Techniques, stitch abbreviations throughout the book use Australian/UK terms with US terms in parentheses.

I use stitch samplers as a teaching tool a lot, so I really appreciate the book’s concept.  Each sampler square is photographed individually and each square uses two to five colors.  The squares are organized into 13 groups (Basic Stripes; Spikes; Shells: Zigzags; Reliefs; Ripples; Chains; Mosaics; Clusters and Bobbles; Afghans; Variable Stripes; Novelty Squares; and Bricks and Boxes) which makes it easier to find them later. Since the entire sampler uses the same five colors, there is a very coordinated appearance to the book.  If you have several stitch guides, you may recognize some of the stitches in Renate’s squares, but often the colors are introduced to new effect.  My personal favorite stitches are Square 25, 31, 32, 34, and 43.

On the other hand, if you are not fond of Renate’s color palette, you can obviously substitute yarns, but that topic isn’t specifically addressed.  There isn’t any pattern difficulty rating listed, so it would be hard for someone new to crochet or pattern reading to have a sense of the comparative difficulty of the patterns.  You can tell from reading the book that Renate as a teacher is relatively laid back about gauge (tension) and she suggests that you use a hook and yarn that you are comfortable with.  However, I know from personal experience that when I was still relatively new to pattern reading, I had great difficulty getting my squares made from Jan Eaton’s 200 Crochet Blocks for Blankets, Throws, and Afghans: Crochet Squares to Mix and Match to be the same size.  I think some beginners might need more explanation of gauge, yarn substitution, and hook sizes if they were working up a full sampler from Renate’s book without having her physically present as a teacher :).

Overall, I really like the sampler format.  I found quite a few stitches that I hadn’t seen elsewhere, or which were reinvented through the use of color.  I enjoyed Renate’s relaxed style compared to some books which can make me feel like the Crochet Police are looking over my shoulder.  However, if you are the type of crocheter who likes to follow the pattern exactly in terms of gauge, color choices, etc., you may find that Renate is not “strict” enough for you.  I recommend the book to crocheters looking for some new stitches, who enjoy making afghans and rugs, and/or who are afraid of color and would like a friendly teacher to walk them through some explorations.  The book may be too challenging for most beginners to work their way through (though an adventurous beginner would have a lot of fun experimenting with the book).  In my Amazon review, I gave the book 4 out of 5 stars.

The Giveaway

Today’s giveaway kicks off my week of giveaways in celebration of my 100th blog post, which you have just read!  Yay!

Today’s prize is The Crochet Lite Crochet Hooks-Size I 5.5mm.

This hook is brand new in the package and includes batteries.  In addition to having a comfort grip, this hook lights up, so you can work on that stitch sampler afghan in the wee hours of the night :).  It has an on/off switch to protect battery life.  I have never used the Crochet Lite hooks but it seems like a cool idea :).

You will have 10 days to enter each giveaway.  To enter for a chance to win this Crochet Lite hook,

  • Leave a comment on this post by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday, August 15, 2011.  Be sure to include your email address (which won’t be displayed) so I can contact you if you win.  (Please note that my comments are moderated, so if you are a new visitor, it will not appear immediately.)
  • For a second chance to win, like the Underground Crafter Facebook page.  Then you can either post a comment on Facebook or here again so I will give you a second entry.  (If you already like my Facebook page, you can still post a comment for another chance to win.)
  • For a third chance to win, share the link to this giveaway via Twitter, Facebook, or your blog.  Then post a comment here with the link to your Tweet or blog post, or leave a comment on my Facebook page so I will give you a third entry.
  • I am willing to ship this internationally, so please feel free to enter from any location.

Good luck to everyone!

Thursday craft goals update, week 14

This week I’m taking a few days off from work (yay!), so I wrote my craft goals update in advance.  This is my 99th post since I started this blog on March 27.  Starting tomorrow, I will host a week of giveaways to celebrate my 100th post, so stop by again soon for your chance to win some awesome crafty goodness!

Ok, back to my goals…

Personal crafting goals

2) Work my way through Crochet Master Class: Lessons and Projects from Today’s Top Crocheters.

I just started the filet crochet chapter, and I already know which chapter is next on my list :).

12) Continue to destash and keep my newly created crafting space organized.

I sold a few more items through my Stash Sale since my last post.  I think I can almost see the bottom of that shelf again!

14) Make at least two custom fit pet gifts.

Over the weekend, I visited my mom’s house and had the chance to take some measurements on her lovely pooch, Lily.  Let’s hope I will have some time in the next few weeks to get started on a project…

Professional crafting goals

3) Publish at least five patterns.

I am super excited to announce that I’m going to be included in Cooperative Press‘s Fresh Designs Crochet series.  One of my patterns will be in the Kids book!  Although I will need to keep most of the details private until it is published in 2012, I look forward to providing some sneak peaks in the coming weeks.  (By the way, the Fresh Designs call for submissions has been re-opened for some categories with a deadline of September 2.)

4) Blog at least twice a week.

Perhaps I’m excited by my upcoming 100th post, or maybe it is due to my vacation from work, but I have been posting a little more than usual this week.

9) Figure out how to do super cool stuff on WordPress.

I think I get an “E for effort” on this one.  This week I tried to insert a photo from Flickr into a post.  Instead I sent out an unexplained picture to my blog subscribers :).  I also made several tries to embed a video in this post, but ended up linking it in the end.  Progress, or not?  You can let me know what you think.